In the past few days, the @TopBinsTalk Twitter account has reminisced on past Premier League players that, as has been coined, are regarded as players that “the streets will never forget.”
If you’re an active football twitterer, you will have definitely seen these memes doing the rounds in the past. If you haven’t, let us explain: a player “the streets will never forget” is one of two things: either a baller that had the ultimate set of skills in his locker and absolutely bossed it on the pitch for a brief period of time until suddenly, they fell of a cliff. In other words, after being in the form of their lives, they inexplicably disappeared from the headlines as quickly as they arrived. Or, a player who consistently dazzled and impressed throughout their careers, but never got close to the recognition and attention they deserved. However, their cameos were so impactful that their influence will never be forgotten.
Below, we will outline which of these players makes our “The Streets Will Never Forget” Ultimate XI.
We’ve gone for the unprecedented 3-1-2-4 formation, not expecting much defensive help but instead banking on our attacking sextet to outscore the opposition. Give us all these players in their peak form and they would absolutely tear the Premier League apart!
David James: Goalkeeper
The man of many different but equally impressive hairstyles was the keeper during Portsmouth’s famous 2007/08 season, when they finished 8th in the table and won the FA Cup, qualifying for the UEFA Cup in the process. Under ‘Arry Redknapp, Pompey put together quite the team, with the likes of Papa Boupa Diop and Sulley Muntari running things in the middle, Niko Kranjcar causing havoc from the wings, and Jermain Defoe and Benjani banging the goals in up top. James was named in the PFA Team of the Year at the conclusion of the season, all the more impressive considering he was 37 at the time!
Fabricio Coloccini: Center Back
Speaking of impressive hairstyles, the Argentinian certainly gives James a good run for his money. Fabricio Coloccini not only makes the team for his magnificent mop, but for the eight years he served at Newcastle, both in the top flight and during their season in the Championship. During this time, he developed a reputation as an imperious leader and a rock-solid, no nonsense defender. He was eventually made captain of the club and was part of the 2011/12 side that finished 5th, ultimately leading to the reward of an eight year contract for then-manager Alan Pardew. The less said about that decision the better.
Christopher Samba: Center Back
Signed from Hertha BSC in January 2007, Christopher Samba quickly developed a cult-hero status for himself at Blackburn, forming a strong defensive partnership with Ryan Nelsen as the team finished in the top ten in back-to-back seasons. Strong as a rock in the air with a quick burst of pace, Samba also proved to be somewhat of a weapon up top, often deployed by then-manager Sam Allardyce as the lone frontman. After five years of service at the club, a long-drawn out saga, including a transfer request, led to a move to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. His performances on both sides of the pitch during his time in the Premier League will never be forgotten, however.
Ivan Campo: Center Back
When people talk about club legends, it is often homegrown talents, all-action midfielders, or prolific goal-scorers who fall under this category. In Bolton Wanderers’ case, it is the curly-haired Spanish center-half Ivan Campo that will forever remain in their fans’ hearts. Originally signed on loan from Real Madrid in August 2002, he shockingly made the move permanent a year later, swapping sunny Madrid for… well, Bolton. Deployed as both a center half and in the holding midfield role, his whole-hearted nature and barnstorming displays will always be unforgettable. 160 appearances and 12 goals later, Campo is an absolute legend for the club, helped in part by goals like these.
Leon Britton: Holding Midfielder
The passing machine. The little Magician. The Swannish Pirlo. Call him what you want, Leon Britton was an absolute PLAYER. And that still doesn’t do him justice. If there was ever an example of a baller who would have been regarded as world class if he was Brazilian and named Brittondinho, the Swansea legend is exactly that. Britton arrived at the club in 2002 when they were at the bottom of League 2, and was absolutely integral in their climb up the Football League, eventually reaching the promise land in 2011. He remained the lynchpin in the side as they finished 9th in the league in 2012/13, winning the League Cup in the process. Britton holds a basically unmatched record of completing a Premier League game with an 100% passing rate. If the diminutive man, standing at just 5’5, was to be remembered as anything, that record highlights it: a passing metronome. Disgustingly underrated, but forever remembered.
Adel Taarabt: Central Midfielder
There are some players who had all the talent in the world, but the most lethargic work-ethic known to mankind. Adel Taarabt was exactly that. The tekkiest player you’ll ever see. The Nutmeg King. But a lazy so-and-so. A flawed genius. After joining QPR on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in 2009, the Moroccan had an unbelievable first full-season in the Championship in 2010/11, scoring 19 goals and dazzling defenders with outrageous pieces of skill like this:
After gaining promotion to the Premier League, he never found the same form, showing flashes but ultimately not living up to the promise he initially showed. After gaining far too much weight, he was subsequently moved on a few years later. He has since reinvented himself as an all-action central midfielder at Benfica.
Hatem Ben Arfa: Central Midfielder
The former Newcastle player can be placed in the same category as Taarabt — a player of extreme, outrageous talent, but with an attitude that prevented him from ever reaching his full potential. In August 2010, the Frenchmen joined the Magpies and went on to enjoy the best period of his career. His time at Newcastle is remembered for jaw-dropping goals, unbelievable pieces of skill, and periods where it looked like he would have rather been anywhere else but the football pitch. A player always capable of the spectacular, but one that struggled for motivation to consistently produce it.
Amr Zaki: Forward
When Amr Zaki was signed by Steve Bruce’s Wigan in the summer of 2008, his arrival was met with a number of raised eyebrows. His incredible goalscoring form over the ensuing months, however, could not have been expected even by the most optimistic of fans. Zaki began life in the Premier League with a swerving volley against West Ham, and continued his prolific goalscoring form by netting ten goals in the first-half of the season, including a brace against Liverpool. His form led to reported interest from Real Madrid as he gained a reputation as THE in-form striker in Europe. Then, just as quickly as his fame began, he seemingly forgot how to score, failing to hit the back of the next for the remainder of the season. He never regained that unbelievable goalscoring prowess again. You’ll always be remembered, Amr ❤
It’s now hard to fathom just how good the Spanish striker was in his first season at Swansea. After arriving from Rayo Vallecano in the summer of 2012, Michu was an absolute revelation, scoring 22 goals in all competitions (including 18 in the league) in the 2012/13 season. The big man made a name for himself not only for his breathtaking goalscoring record, but also for his trademark celebration and his role in a Swansea team that defied expectations in the top-flight with their attractive brand of football. Michu initially caused havoc with his sweet left foot, but found goals hard to come by in his second season. After less than two years at the club, Michu joined Napoli on loan, and then found himself at Austrian minnows UP Langreo just a few years later. His fall from grace was as impressive as his rise to fame — the mark of a streets legend.
Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse: Forwards
Many people associate Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse as a prolific partnership, but the Senegalese strikers actually struggled to play together in a pair. However, they both enjoyed unbelievably prolific periods in their time at Newcastle. While Ba scored 15 goals in the first half of the 2011/12 season, Cisse managed 12 in just 13 games after arriving in January of that same campaign. In total, the Senegalese duo scored a combined 29 Premier League goals and nearly fired Newcastle to a Champions League spot, eventually finishing in 5th place. The Magpies are a club that has had the privilege of witnessing a number of fine strikers in their famous black and white shirt (Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, and Andy Cole to name a few) but the form of Ba and Cisse during that famous season is unrivaled. Although neither could prolong this goalscoring pedigree, their efforts will always be memorialized. Especially this wonderstrike from Cisse:
What a side this is:
What do you think of this “Streets Will Never Forget” side? Who have I left out? Let us know what you think on twitter and in the comments!